ALEX RIDER debuted its first season last year. Season 2 of ALEX RIDER premiered its seven-episode second season on December 3. All episodes of both seasons are now available on IMDb TV, the free streaming service of Prime Video.
The ALEX RIDER series is based on the best-selling, globally-popular novels by Anthony Horowitz. Alex Rider is an English teen, still in school, who becomes a spy for an offshoot of the British government’s MI-6 service, comparable to the CIA in the U.S. While ALEX RIDER has been adapted for television by writer Guy Burt, Horowitz is closely involved creatively and serves as one of the executive producers.
Season 1 was based on the second ALEX RIDER novel, POINT BLANC. Alex (played by Otto Farrant), age fifteen, suspects that his uncle’s “accidental” death was really murder. In fact, Uncle Ian was a spy in the Department. Alex’s efforts to find out what happened get the Department to take notice. They recruit Alex to infiltrate a private school for rich teenagers, where it turned out the attendees were being replaced by clones.
In Season 2 , despite the success of Alex’s mission, Department head Alan Blunt (Stephen Dillane) would prefer to cut all ties. After all, it would be problematic, to put it mildly, if it were widely known that the British government had knowingly sent a minor into mortal danger.
When Alex discovers a murderous conspiracy that seems oddly connected to the launch of the latest version of a popular videogame, the Department won’t listen to him. Alex must rely on his best friend Tom (Brenock O’Connor), his guardian Jack (Ronke Adekoluejo), and ace hacker Kyra (Marli Siu) for backup. The stakes turn out to be the potential start of World War III.
Besides the ALEX RIDER series, London native/resident Horowitz has also written best-selling novels for adults. His MAGPIE MURDERS is currently being adapted into a miniseries for television, and he has written three books so far in the Hawthorne/Horowitz line, which teams a fictionalized version of the author with a grumpy former police detective in solving murders. Horowitz also created the long-running, award-winning series FOYLE’S WAR, as well as the miniseries INJUSTICE, COLLISION, NEW BLOOD, and much more.
Horowitz gets on a Zoom call to discuss all things ALEX RIDER Season 2.
ASSIGNMENT X: When in the life of ALEX RIDER Season 1 did you know you had a Season 2?
ANTHONY HOROWITZ: I think about a week after it [premiered] was when we knew for sure. We were already working on Season 2. There was so much enthusiasm behind Otto’s performance, and behind Andreas Prochaska’s direction, and the whole feel of it was good. When you’re doing a show that is going to be a hit, you do sort of feel the wind is in your sails. But it was only when the show came out, and the reviews were so great, and the audience figures were so good, and everyone was so happy, that we were told, “Yeah, it’s green-lit, off you go.”
AX: ALEX RIDER Season 1 is based on the book POINT BLANC. Is Season 2 based on another specific book as well, or is the TV series going in its own direction at this point?
HOROWITZ: No, the series is following the books pretty closely. Obviously, we jumped from the second book, POINT BLANC, to the fourth book, EAGLE STRIKE. There were very good reasons for that, the most important one being not to take Alex out of Europe and England, and therefore away from his TV family, away from Jack, and from Tom, and even from the Department. So, it was a joint decision by Guy Burt and myself to put EAGLE STRIKE next. But I think that the actual development of the story is very, very close to the books. What is interesting is that I think that Alex is developing in much the same way that he develops in the books. But whereas it takes him about ten books to get thoroughly troubled and worried about what’s happening to him in his life, this happens in this season.
AX: Is Kyra, the hacker Alex meets at the boarding school, a recurring character in the books, or did she just pop for you in Season 1, and you decided, “Ah, we should put her in Season 2”?
HOROWITZ: Kyra was Guy Burt’s idea. Obviously, the producers were very happy that this shouldn’t be too much of a boy-heavy production. With a boy hero, and the world we live in now, we want to share the credits around different people. And so, he created Kyra for the first season, and the casting of Marli Siu was really important, because she’s such a wonderful actor. And I think we all knew at the end of Season 1 that, if we were given Season 2, she would have to come back. She is really a great foil to Alex, and the way she turns up in this one – obviously, there is a slight spoiler going on here – but nonetheless, her first appearance is just so phenomenal, and such fun, that the moment she’s on the screen, you realize that Alex is somehow complete.
AX: Is the TV show a little more interactional with Alex’s found family than the books are, or do the books get there?
HOROWITZ: Yeah, that happened, because we’re so lucky with the casting. You’ve got to remember, we looked at six hundred kids before we cast Alex – we cast Otto Farrant as Alex. The casting – I was there, in a room where Otto and Ronke, and Brenock, which is Alex, Jack, and Tom, sat down on couches together and interacted, and just had fun with each other, and then read a page, and then did a bit of ad-libbing. And I tell you, there were something like twelve people in the room, the suits, watching, and everybody knew we had found not just the perfect Alex, but the perfect family. And one of the joys of the show is bringing those three together.
Having Kyra, Marli Siu, added to that, and also of course now we have Sabina [a character introduced in Season 2, played by Charithra Chandran], too, so the family is extending a little bit. Actually, the scenes I like the best are the ones with those three [Alex, Jack, and Tom]. One of my favorite scenes in the whole show, which isn’t even in the book, is when they find themselves the victims of a cyber attack, where everything that is electronic in the house begins to work against them. And I find their reactions to it, and the three of them together, just makes me smile.
AX: The character in charge of the videogame company is an Englishman, Damian Cray, played by Toby Stephens. Is naming an English character Cray like naming an American character Dillinger or Capone?
HOROWITZ: [laughs] Well, it is. When I had created that character, which is a long time ago now, in the book, Damian Cray is actually a pop singer. In the group Blur, one of the lead singers was called Damian [Albarn]. Anyway, Damian was the name of a famous pop singer, and Cray actually is, you’re quite right, I was thinking, [infamous ‘60s British gangsters] the Kray brothers. In real life, they had K-r-a-y, and I gave him C-r-a-y, but yeah. He’s a mix of showbiz and major criminal.
AX: The plot of Season 2 involves videogames. Do you personally like videogames?
HOROWITZ: It’s a funny thing. I have never quite got into videogames. I wish I could. It’s one of those things – I wish I could get into them, but the trouble with videogames is, they [often] lack story. I was actually hired by Spielberg years ago to work on a videogame of his TINTIN film, so I got involved with the TINTIN project, because it was me saying publicly, “Why can’t videogames have a proper story, rather than merely being a digital choice between your left thumb and your right thumb?” But obviously, because I have two sons, they were hugely into videogames and, through them, I learned the power and the allure and the profitability of these games. As I’m sure you know, the videogames are now making more money, I think, than movies or music. It’s this vast industry. But it makes me sad that I never actually got sucked in. I did try. I played MYST, and I played GRAND THEFT AUTO, and I played DOOM – these are some of the games I remember – but I never really became sort of a geek.
AX: How did you hit upon that world for this season?
HOROWITZ: Well, again, it was Guy Burt’s choice to take out the pop music, which I think was a sensible choice to make, and to move Damian Cray into just the world of tech billionaire. The game was in the book [EAGLE STRIKE]. He took my game, FEATHERED SERPENT, using Aztec mythology, and all the horrors and the monsters that come out of the Aztec imagination, and one of the things that is a real pleasure in the show for me is that it’s actually realized very, very well. Because if you’ve got a TV show about the most successful game on the planet, it can’t look naff [tacky], it can’t look rubbish, it’s got to look really good. I think the graphics are terrific, and it’s really exciting TV.
AX: I feel I should ask about the ALEX RIDER opening credits theme song, which is very Bondian. That’s appropriate, but the lyrics have romance, alcohol, and cars, none of which Alex has. So, is that meant to be ironic, is that where the show is ultimately heading …?
HOROWITZ: I have to say, that hadn’t occurred to me, but that is the case. And of course, it was nothing to do with me, because the first time I heard that song was when they showed me the credits with Otto and the letter “A,” which keeps on retracting into the distance. I guess they chose the song because it’s a great song. I don’t think they were trying to say anything with the contents of the lyrics. But that said, I think it does signal that this is not a kid’s show. You’ve got to remember that the books were originally designed for a readership of age eight, nine to fifteen, and this show meets that same [original readership] group at twenty years later, so now they’re in their twenties, and even into their thirties, and they don’t want a kid’s show. And I think that the theme song and the opening credits absolutely ram that home.
AX: Do you have a Season 3 of ALEX RIDER planned?
HOROWITZ: We have a Season 3 which we hope to do. Obviously, [with] TV, you never take anything for granted. We haven’t yet chosen the book that it will be based on. I’m [hoping] for SCORPIA, which is Number 5, it follows absolutely on from EAGLE STRIKE, so it would seem to be the logical one to go with. But there is so much that it depends on, including, of course, the state of the world six months from now. We can’t really make plans. The first thing is just to make sure that the fans enjoy Season 2, and that, of course, unlocks all sorts of possibilities.
AX: Speaking of the assassins-for-hire organization Scorpia, one of its operatives, Yassen Gregorovitch, has been an important figure in both seasons. Is Gregorovitch as multilayered in the books as he is in the TV series?
HOROWITZ: We are incredibly lucky to have Thomas Levin playing Yassen, because he is such a wonderful actor. Doing the part of the assassin – we’ve seen so many assassins of different sorts, from Lee Marvin to Quentin Tarantino, and it’s so easy to go over the top. What he does is exactly the opposite. He is so quiet, so menacing, so dark, so sinister. One of my favorite scenes in it is his attack on the cyber café in [Season 2]. I saw earlier cuts, which were a little more violent than the finished one, because he is so scary – just that moment when the silenced gun comes up, and you look up, and you’re facing down the muzzle, and you’ve got Thomas Levin on the other side.
When you asked me what other books I’d like to do, obviously, SCORPIA is high up on my list, but RUSSIAN ROULETTE, the book I wrote about Yassen Gregorovitch, is in many ways my favorite ALEX book, because it explores the depths of this character. I think in the TV series, he is already a deeper and more interesting character than he is in [the first ALEX RIDER novel] STORMBREAKER, and in SKELETON KEY, which is when he reappears. But I did actually write a whole book him, and I know him pretty well, and Thomas Levin has obviously read the book.
AX: And what would you most like people to know about ALEX RIDER Season 2?
HOROWITZ: I would like them to know that it is a lot of fun, and it is a real roller-coaster adventure, and it has more action in it, I think, than the first season, but has the same depth of affection and warmth amongst the main characters, a very much more troubled Alex, and I hope a lot of surprises along the way.
Article Source: Assignment X
Article: Exclusive Interview with ALEX RIDER author and executive producer Anthony Horowitz on Season 2